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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tribute To Cowboy

Today I attended the funeral of a friend.

His name was James William Robertson but I knew him as "Cowboy". His siblings and family referred to him as Jim. The minister officiating referred to him as "A kind and thoughtful man".

The minister spoke of all the things Cowboy had done throughout his life. He had accomplished lots more than he ever talked about. He told about his early life in Stillwater, Oklahoma and how hard it must have been on his parents to raise five children through the depression. He talked about Cowboy's military service and the fact he had served in Korea and Japan during the Korean Conflict. Following his honorable discharge he settled in Oakland, California where he worked for Pacific Gas and Electric installing gas lines. He retired after 30 years and moved to Spokane to be closer to family and help take care of his aged mother.

In Spokane he continued his education at Spokane Community College. He took computer classes in order to use his computer more efficiently and a couple years ago when digital cameras were the rage he took photography classes to be sure he understood all the "bells and whistles" of his new digital camera.

Cowboy had a diverse array of interests ranging from restoring old cars to collecting recipes. He not only loved horseback riding but also riding his two wheeled horse "His Harley". He and his brother "Red" loved restoring old cars. He had five old cars in his garage which they have restored. He loved fishing and spent many hours with his Catholic friend Father Bill on different lakes and oceans fishing. He had wonderful pictures of those fish "which didn't get away". He liked bowling and bowled in a league. He liked photography and developing his own pictures (before digital cameras). Another of his hobbies was gardening. In the years I have known him he always had his garden out back. He not only supplied his own vegetables but vegetables for his neighbors and friends as well. He was probably known best for his herbs and his zucchini. One year I shared with him some bean seed I had special ordered from Tennessee. He babied those beans all summer until they were ready to harvest. He then professed those were the best beans he had ever eaten.

Along with his gardening abilities, he had a great love for cooking. He loved to read the grocery ads and to grocery shop. He also loved collecting recipes and once he found how easy it was to copy and paste recipes from his computer to his printer he would spend hours searching for recipes, printing them and filing them into a big three ring binder. Once, I remember he had a thing about okra and it became a staple in his diet for three or four weeks until he had had his fill. Then it was over and I never heard him mention okra again.

Another thing that was outstanding about Cowboy was the love for his family and his friends. He often spoke of his parents, his brothers, Bob and Red and their wives, his sisters, Rachel and Ruth and their husbands and his nieces and nephews. It was obvious that he loved them very much and it was also evident today by their presence they loved him too.

Cowboy also loved all his friends and one friend in particular, our dear departed friend Tommy. He spoke of Tommy with great admiration and respect. As Tommy grew more feeble he was always bringing Tommy little gifts from his garden or something he had cooked. He told his sister he wanted her to paste a picture of Tommy on her bulletin board so her children would know Tommy and the influence he had on Cowboy's life. You always knew when Cowboy was coming through the door. He usually had to duck to get in he was so tall. He was a storyteller and he had lots of stories. It didn't matter to him if you had heard the story before (many times) or if you could recite it word for word he just had to tell it one more time and it was always the same time after time.

Cowboy did have his little quirks. The minister's word was stubborn but I prefer to think of it a little differently. He liked things "His Way". He may not have fit the mold of what people think of as a "good" person. He may have said a curse word or two once in awhile. He may have had a few beers with friends and not went to church as often as some people thought he should. He may have danced to the beat of a different drum but he was a man of character, he treated others with respect and he leaves behind a legacy of kindness, love and laughter.

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!

Oh the last goodbyes the hardest one to say.
This is where the cowboy rides away.


Sandra said...

What a tribute! You make Cowboy sound like such an amazing person. He must have been a very special friend. I am sorry he is no longer around. You have my sympathies.

Jim and Dee said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a great tribute! Thank you for sharing.

JB said...

Your "Cowboy" was lucky to have a friend like you as you were lucky to spend time with him. Someday you'll ride the hills together again.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny,

You have truly been blessed to have so many wonderful people in your life. I'm sorry to hear of your friends passing. He sounds like a wonderful friend.